Ray Brown – Ailfionn

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Some records just carry you away to some place terrible and beautiful. A place you don’t necessarily want to be. They reminds you of the love you worked so hard to forget. The bells and whistles dragged behind heart break’s gnarly appendages. Some records grow inside you. The more you listen the bigger and heavier they get. Ray Brown‘s album Canyon is one. That record saved me this Autumn, I swear to God. Some things are impossible. Like escaping yourself. You have to slip your soul out of it’s socket and break out of the straight jacket of yourself. Music can do that. Change you. Ray’s new record is just as good. It’s beautiful and ugly and the most honest thing you’ve ever heard in your life. It breaks my fucking heart.

 

In The Dark coming to Dublin

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Two Summers ago, I was lucky enough to attend the first ever Hearsay Audio Festival. If you haven’t heard of the festival, it’s a unique chance to enjoy the most inventive, avant garde and creative audio from around the world. The festival is also a hella chill break, as it’s held in the bucolic idyll of Kilfinane, Co Limerick. One of the highlights of the first Hearsay was the short doc contest run by Bristol based BBC crew ‘In The Dark‘ (and not just cause I won ;). In The Dark run uniquely joyful listening events in a wonderful variety of locations from crypts to eerie forests . At last years festival they setup a shop full of curiosities, each of which was paired with a story. Visitors plucked an object from the shelf and were passed an MP3 player containing an accompanying story. Mine concerned an urban myth about an underground group of students who got their kicks climbing into tumble driers and experiencing the spin cycle!

AIRPI have invited In the Dark to Dublin, for what promises to be a unique listening even at the Unitarian Church. In The Dark will be playing a selection of stories for the start of winter. Highly recommended!

When: Saturday, November 5 at 8 PM – 10 PM
Where: Dublin Unitarian Church
How Much: 10 euro or free for AIRPI members.
More info.

Why Don’t You Make Someone a Mixtape?

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It seems like just a moment ago blogging was young, the web was exciting and the mix had slipped from tape and CD onto the internet. We downloaded mp3’s from blogs, livejournal and the hypemachine, and mixtapes were back in vogue, passed like notes in class. Notes that whispered of love, lust and the joyful discovery of music.

We don’t make mixtapes anymore. No one has a CD player, and who even plays for spotify? But it’s still possible to make someone a mixtape. I recently stumbled across 8tracks, a service I used way back in 2012 (you remember, that year the world ended). It lets you take songs you’ve just ripped from youtube, and make a playlist to share with someone special (like the cop who koshed you into hospital, or the nephew you’ve imprisoned in a shipping container). Guess what? You can even embed playlists on wordpress. Here’s one I made (much) earlier.

Eimear Noone – Culture File

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Last April I spoke with video game composer Craig Stuart Garfinkle, about his life and career to date. That interview was just one of a number with composers involved in creating work for Blizzard franchises and the Videogames Live event. Here’s the second, a chat with composer, conductor and game music evangelist Eimear Noone. We talk about video game music, affect in composition and her work establishing Dublin City Concert Orchestra.

Image: Eimear Noone by Rkukiyhuri.

Download: ‘Eimear Noone’

For Heart & Breath – Culture File

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Richard Reed Parry of Arcade Fire fame is bringing a unique piece to the Aula Maxima at UCC this evening. In collaboration with physiologist Professor Ken O’Halloran, and neuroscientist Professor John Cryan, he’ll be performing a piece called ‘For Heart & Breath‘. Released as an album last year, in live performance the piece relies on measures the breath and heartbeats of its performers to create a feedback loop of performance and appreciation. I headed down to UCC to speak with professor Ken O’Halloran about music, physiology and the often surprising links between art and science, breath and brain.

Download: ‘For Heart & Breath’

Artist Led Archive – Culture File

Screen Shot 2015-07-02 at 13.05.41Megs Moorley at IMMA, image copyright Catalyst Arts Gallery.

Meg’s Moorley’s ‘artist led archive‘ is a wonderful storehouse of the wisdom and work of numerous art collectives over the last four decades. The archive, which tours as a series of exhibitions and discussion events, is part of the permanent collection at the National Arts Visual Library at NCAD. I spoke with curator and artist Megs Morley, at the recent Artist Led Archive exhibition at IMMA.

All tracks used in this piece were from CD’s included in the Artist Led Archive (complete list below). Many of these works were included on the incredible ‘The Sound We Are Now‘ release from 2007, featuring some of the most beautiful and evocative sound artists working in the last decade. The Sound We Are Now is available from Farpoint Recordings, the label which curates a panoply of incredible sound artists and experimental musicians.

Download: ‘The Artist Led Archive’


Tracks used

The Sound We Are Now – Anthony Kelly & David Stalling – Powerstation 3
The Sound We Are Now – Thea Herold – Same Same but different
Gary Phelan & Mark McLoughlin – Random Access Soundworks – Kevlar Second Chants
The Sound We Are Now – Johannes S. Sistermanns – to disappear / appear
The Sound We Are Now – Alan Lambert South Shore
David Stalling and Anthony Kelly – Urban Utopias – Ghost Signal
The Sound We Are Now – Jürgen Simpson – Kepler
Alan Lambert – The Man Who Cycled To The Moon – Tiny Tiny

Sightless Cinema – Culture File

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White Cane Audio Theatre is a group of blind and visually impaired participants (aged 20’s to 80’s) led by theatre director Ciarán Taylor of Carpet Theatre with radio programme maker and composer Rachel Ni Chuinn (The Shape of Sounds to Come –Lyric Fm), and facilitated by the National Council for the Blind in Ireland with the support of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council Arts Office. The group has been meeting for nine months exploring audio as a means of shared expression. Sightless Cinema is a presentation of some of the work generated during the project.’

I spoke to the group last week as they were finishing up recordings for the soap opera episodes based on their real life experiences, that serve as part of the project.

Sightless cinema, a live event showcasing the groups work, takes place this Thursday at UCD’s student centre cinema at 6.30PM. Contact: carpettheatre@gmail.com for ticket details.

Download: ‘Sightless Cinema’

Pigtown Scratchings – Culture File

Pigtown Scratchings is an occasional multidisciplinary event in Limerick, created by science and music collaboration Softday. Last week I headed down for Lyric’s Culture File, to speak to some of the multidisciplinary artists featured in this years event.

Featuring: performance poet Roger Gregg, musician and sonic artist Günter Berkus, contemporary dance artist Angie Smalis, storyteller Steve Lally, and audiovisual artist Leon McCarthy.

Download: ‘Pigtown Scratchings’

Notes From a Performance Art Piece – Culture File

Download: ‘Notes from a performance art piece’

Notes from a performance piece

Phase 1 – Destroyed by Life

NO EXPRESSION, EYES OPEN, SLOW
NO FEELING, EMPTY, SLAVE
EXHAUSTION

1 – Electric awaken
2 – Rise, slowly painfully
3 – Crawl to feet
4 – Splash alive
5 – Trudging walk
6 – Slow pickup case
7 – Ride invisible train
5 – Smash with hammer
6 – Knocked back by an invisble wave
7 – Collapse
8 – REPEAT 1 to 7
9 – Hanging / rope break
10 – death

When Sebastian Dooris asked me to help him with one of his ‘projects’, it couldn’t have come at a better time. I had recently been knocked down, pushed off a forty story building and shot through the heart.

Seb and Emma Injection make up the experimental musical duo ‘Deathness Injection’. Improvising each ferocious new performance, the pair don outrageous costumes, dual theramins, and fuse industrial beats with pedalled improvisation. They perform on beeches, in art centres or abandoned space, sometimes with fellow noise makers like Luxury Mollusc, occassionally with hundreds of passers by. Now me, I’m about as musical as a puppys snore. Luckily Deathness Injection didn’t want me to play with them, they wanted me to dance.

I didn’t let my lack of formal training, or the fact that I’ve never danced in public slow me for a second. I realised I had everything needed for such a performance. Cycling thighs, a house mate with a bachelors degree in special effects make up, and no shame what so ever.

My inspirations – Beckett’s Catastrophe, Bob From Twin Peaks, and Oliverier de Saganzan, whose 2008 piece ‘surmodelage du crâne et de la face’ is the number one hit when you google ‘French performance artist’. The obvious ridiculousness of a middle aged man wigging and twitching to improvised industrial noise music, only increased the appeal. regieme

I begin to craft a skull cap, a waxy nub to keep my hair clean during my on stage transformation. I ordered a silver one piece suit from the internet, that would faile to arrive in time – decreasing the shiny strippyness of my planned denoutement. I began a regieme of physical training, cycling daily around the Pheonix park, dilligently entering all meals into MSN diet tracker.

Phase 2 – Transformation and rejection

1 – Rise with new life
2 – Discover brief case
3 – Worship / find solace in case
4 – Meet audience eyes
5 – Open case – HANGING OVER (pushup, crawling in)
6 – Build face – hiding in case – ORGASMIC – SLOW – MOVING and crawling
7 – Start with beak – rolling eyes
8 – Moaning / uncovering
8 – PAINT face – with hands
9 – Self discovery / celebration – BEND BACK – RISE with awkwardness
10 – New Body – Animation dance
11 – REJECTION – quivering fear walk – Tormented by music
12 – Cowering – invisible box
12 – collapse
13 – On back limb writhing
14 – Fight to rise – stand
15 – Cruicified

In the video of our first rehearsal, I’m visibly nervous, pacing about in a Trinity FM hoody, awkwardly making shapes. Little did I realise how a mere month of rehearsals will build from this quivering flesh a transfiguring artist.

Private parties, crustie hippies in their water logged mountain idyls growing vegetables, juice and credibility – not so much bugging out as tuning out, turning off and plugging out. Their music an ironic mix of 90’s hardcore, high BPM industrial techno and Bauhasian baroque retro classics.

Somewhere between a large house party and a small festival, Species Gothic Arts and Culture Gathering – wilfully hidden in the Leitrim mountains, is part of a new breed of curated parties. Not quite the debauched bacchanal of the 90’s rave scene, neither the security heavy Disnified boutique festivals that have sprung up on the wake of the death of Oxygen: Vantastival, bestival, Knock * Stocking – for every one of these mini festivals there are a douzen events like this. New age hippies, crusties and outsiders coming together to make psychedelic art, play their music ear bleedingly loud abd wear their freakiest clobber. Performers include Tragedy Vampires, Sugarplum Suicide, Kraven Brainz, DJ Fracture, Burden, DJ Flesh, Venus De Vilo, Last Bus to Nowhere, Bending Wrongs, Fallen Demon.

Phase 3 – Persecution and Assimilation

GRADUALLY BECOME MONSTER

1 – Shake off / break off face
2 – Sliding feet leg invert
3 – Hand across face to reveal expressions
4 – Lapping and suckling / abjection
5 – Feet together move top waving plant – Bob
6 – Lick and creep forward in one place – predated to predator
8 – Trusting legs in place
9 – Slow lurking walk – Pappa Lazaru
10 – Hands over head – Guermo Del Toro
11 – Shit on case
12 – Molest and consume case
13 – Engage audience
14 – Start to suffer
15 – Calcify
16 – Breaking and slowing and crumpling
17 – Can’t reach the case – fighting the seizure
18 – Horrible realisation and standing – this is real

We are deluged of course – what else in early May Ireland. Everywhere tents collapse like soufflés or blowing away all together in the gale force wind. We congregate in a corrugated shed plastered with Halloween themed folk art. A shrine to Wednesday Adams & Cthulhu shares wall-space with a Rubenesque blacklight water nymph and a two tone skull gobbling Laverne wood cut.

After civilisation collapses we’ll all live like this – small clumps of sustainable humanity hammering club thumpers into the encroaching night. The rolling hills of Leitrim are an ideal location for this kind of escapist awakening. The moss eroded walls of ancient small holdings climbing erosion rent hills of gorse and bracken. Old polymorphous woods concealing fairy secrets and freudian sins.

The outskirts of Leitrim are one of those places, like Waterford and Kinvara, where Britain’s new age travellers settled in large numbers as the UK grew rabbidly intolerant of their wandering ways. All across Ireland little enclaves of second and third generation hippie kids have grown up, fertilising the local arts scene.

King of the mountain is Illiocht O’Brainz, a dread locked Irish American clad in a kilt, Dennis the Menace jumper with a storm cape thrust over his shoulders like a lord of Winterfell.

Along with his wife, artist Harriet Myfanwy Nia Tahany, they serve as a nexus for local artists. Their property is a haunted mansion dotted with ram skulls, soft core fairy pinups, a bottles of potions with names Life Renewal Potion. The grounds have been prepared by a corps of young artists, dotted with decomposing corpses, miniature graveyards and alien sculptures.

Armed with a vague familiarity with the films of Alejandro Jodorowsky and the instruction to create a physical interpretation of Kafka’s Metamorphosis, I set out to make a holy fool of myself. I don my skin wig and paint my face with clay in the portaloo. Hurrying back to the performance shed I swaddle my head in a rain coat to stop it melting off. I lie on a hemp tarp in this overly bright room. The music begins. Time slows. I am the tormented man, struck down by the weight of society. I smash my mime hammer against the rocks of social obligation. As the first act reaches it’s titanic crescendo I bend down to pick up an invisible noose, and end my futile existence.

I rise again in act two, crawling desperately towards a case containing what? Some salvation? Some dream of a better existence? I paw and lap the case with ferocious need. Finally it springs open in my hands and I bury my face within. The audience crane forward, what’s he building in there? Finally, after an eternity of thrusting and heaving I emerge from the case, a hideous creature of clay transfigured by their disapproving eyes. I stumble about, screaming and twitching, like a fawn born wrong. Finally I am crucified – my arms hammering themselves into the air, as my breath collects in great simpering clouds. A one man allegory for lots of deep things.

Act three, I am born again – a sexy rapacious beast, revelling in the horror. I shake off my latex skull cap – unashamed of my human hairThey have made me one of them, and they shall suffer for it. I crawl about on hands and knees, lapping at them, in a display of terrifying eros. Seb climbs from the stage and I rise to twitch with him. But it’s too much for me, I turn to the audience in horrendous revelation. This is what I have become. I look down at my hands, drenched in clay, my suit, a mix of the white and black paint I previously poured over my head. I turn to them as if to say – see, see I am a man after all. I assume a pose at once proud and abject. I wait for the music to finish. It doesn’t… I’ve horribly mistimed my big finish. Think fast, I think… I could stand like this for a bit, or wait, no, the old faithful foetal position. That’s the ticket. I shrink into a ball and wait for the end, as we all do, ultimately. It is magnificent.


Tracks used

Live recording, ‘Deathness Injection at Species 2015’
Deathness Injection – Deathness Before the Storm
Deathness Injection – Testament
Deathness Inection – Sexy Veil of Shame
Deathness Injection – Clangwarp